Michael Pascoe writes:

Microsoft overnight announced a 16 per cent
boost in quarterly profits
to US$3 billion on sales up 13 per cent to nearly US$11 billion – but don’t
worry, the company is promising to do better next year with annual sales of
around US$50 billion.

Wall Street was disappointed the software
giant isn’t doing more right now, cutting Microsoft shares 6 per cent in after
hours trading. Microsoft has been a laggard in the present bull market, rising
only ten per cent over the past three years, but better times are promised with
the next version of the Windows operating system.

In last night’s results the most curious
aspect was the one Microsoft division that seems to be going backwards – the
MSN internet business saw revenue fall 3.4 per cent. CNNMoney reports the Gates empire is struggling in its attempt to catch up with Google
and Yahoo.

Oh well. Sales in the Xbox division jumped
85 per cent to US$1.06 billion and they had trouble making them quickly enough,
so I guess it all balances out without too much trouble.

Meanwhile Microsoft continues to fight the
European Commission’s US$613 million anti-trust fine. It’s bemusing to read the Wall Street analysts stripping out legal charges
from the latest quarterly results to gauge the underlying business – I would
have thought Bill Gates’ various anti-trust, patent and sundry other legal
battles were far from abnormal items. A cost of business, you might say.